This is a landmark year for solar power.
Sometime over the course of 2015, the industry will install solar panels on its one-millionth house.
It’s impressive growth for an industry that’s finally gaining more serious traction with both businesses and consumers. From nearly zero adoption as recently as 2006, solar energy accounted for fully one-third of all new electric capacity installed last year.
Now, you might think that with low prices for oil, natural gas, and even coal, solar growth would slow.
But that’s not the case. Not only is growth forecast to continue, it could even accelerate in the coming months.
That means it’s an attractive industry for job seekers – and (for once) the government has a good plan to employ the perfect candidates…
From the Battlefield to Your Roof
Since 2006, solar employment has leapt nearly eight-fold, in keeping with the underlying industry growth.
It’s a trend that will likely continue for years to come, too. Unlike many factory jobs, on-site installation of solar equipment for homes, businesses, and even utilities isn’t something that can be easily outsourced to robots. In addition to installers, the industry will need salespeople, electricians, managers, and back-office workers.
So who will fill all of these positions?
Last week, the Obama administration announced an expansion of a previous program to train 50,000 new solar workers by 2020. The new target is now 75,000.
Many of these new workers will be military veterans who’ve returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, and will be looking for employment.
Now, a reasonable observer might question why the government has a program to train people who need jobs when employers themselves are so desperate for them.
Well, we’re certainly critical of wasteful government spending – but in this case, it’s more justified…
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So yes… in a perfect world, a massive government training program wouldn’t be necessary. But given that solar installation is one of the few bright spots for small U.S. businesses these days, it’s a legitimate investment.
Besides, most of the money that will be spent on such training has already been committed. And more importantly, it aims to get veterans back into work after they return from duty.
The funding for veterans’ training comes from a combination of grants to community colleges and the existing GI Bill. In addition, many active service members coming to the end of their commitments will have an opportunity to receive solar training right on their military bases.
Why Your Solar Future Could Come Sooner Than You Think
With or without government subsidies to companies, homeowners, or employees, we believe solar is an important part of the world’s energy future.
The development of more advanced solar panels, plus affordable, reliable, and safe household batteries means solar installation is becoming a more viable option for more people. Indeed, it’s getting as easy for consumers to cut the cord from their local electric utility as it was from wired phone providers.
And with overall costs declining, the switch to solar may come sooner than many people think, particularly those who live in sunnier climates. When it does, you may be thanking a motivated, disciplined, and technically savvy crew of veterans. Not only for their service to the country, but for cutting your power bill, too!
To living and investing in the future,